Idaho state lawmaker facing rape allegation had previous harassment complaints: reports
An Idaho state lawmaker facing an allegation of rape had previous harassment complaints against him, according to multiple media reports.
State Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger (R) is facing an investigation from the state House’s Ethics and House Policy Committee over an allegation that he forced a female volunteer on his staff to perform oral sex on him. Boise Police have also reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the lawmaker.
The Associated Press obtained investigatory documents this week ahead of the hearing, including text messages, letters and transcriptions of interviews the committee conducted as part of its investigation.
According to the outlet, several people interviewed expressed concerns about the lawmaker’s behavior, saying they heard he flirted with staffers and made some women uncomfortable. In one instance, a lobbyist accused von Ehlinger of following her around during events outside the statehouse.
Von Ehlinger admitted to the ethics panel that he asked out another woman who worked at the state Capitol, according to the AP.
House leadership had warned von Ehlinger about his behavior, the AP reported, with House Majority Caucus Chairwoman Megan Blanksma (R) at one point asking a colleague to warn von Ehlinger about avoiding contact that could be perceived as flirtatious.
Blanksma told the panel that the lawmaker was “defensive” while von Ehlinger told the committee directly that he believed it was OK to ask out women who work at the state Capitol because he thought they would tell him if they had an issue with it, the AP reported.
The investigation into von Ehlinger centers around an allegation from a 19-year-old intern who claims the lawmaker raped her after they dined at a restaurant together.
According to the AP, the woman told the ethics panel that after dinner the lawmaker said he needed to make a stop and took her to his apartment instead of her car.
The unnamed accuser claims the lawmaker forced himself on top of her and put his groin in her face, despite her saying no, the Idaho Statesman reported. She later told von Ehlinger in a text “I felt like you kind of used me.”
The Ethics panel has 30 days after the public hearing to recommend a disciplinary action against von Ehlinger, which could include expulsion. If four out of five panel members recommend expulsion, then two-thirds of the state House must vote to expel him.